An Advent Prayer: When Holidays Are Hard

     And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ’He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18 (ESV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I’m always thankful you give grace upon grace, but holidays make me even more grateful for this good news. I woke up today feeling the weight of many friends, and the wait of deep longing. Thank you for your heart-engaging, burden-bearing, peace-instilling love.

     I pray for friends who are facing their first Christmas on this side of committing a loved one to eternity. Death is a thief whose robbery is profoundly felt during holidays. Grant grace upon grace for those families, perhaps still raw with the loss and grief. No one is as compassionate as you, Lord Jesus; bring your tenderness and nearness to bear. Thank you for coming into our world to defeat sin and death—which you have magnificently done. The next time we will see you, you will eradicate sin and death—once and for all. Hasten that Day of eternal delight and dancing.

     I also pray for friends bracing to endure Christmas day, Lord Jesus. Old wounds can be easily triggered; messy relationships make it difficult not to pretend, but also painful that we have to pretend. Grant grace upon grace, in those complex scenarios and difficult stories. The world into which you were born was filled with madness and sadness. You shy away from neither. Surprise us with your centering, healing, liberating presence. May endearing moments actually trump the moments that must be endured. Sweeten the bitter waters of our brokenness with the new wine of your kindness.

     Grant grace upon grace to all of us, Lord Jesus. As we lift our hands to praise you, so we offload our burdens on you. You care for us, you love us, and you enjoy us, and that is enough. Hallelujah, what a Savior. Hallelujah, what a salvation. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.